Chris Tomasson of Fanhouse: “Michael Jordan once didn’t feel appreciated for his defense. So he decided to go out and win Defensive Player of the Year in 1987-88. We’re not putting Kevin Durant in Jordan’s category yet. He’s nine scoring titles behind him. But if Durant ever ends up even in the same zip code with Jordan when it comes to being a fantastic all-around player, Thursday night was a good start.”
J.A. Adande: “These are the moments we wait for in sports, why we wade through protracted contract negotiations and lockout talk and super-long television timeouts. All of a sudden none of that matters and the only thing filling your field of vision is Russell Westbrook soaring for a dunk over Lamar Odom, followed by an otherworldly noise filling your ears. “That was the loudest I’ve ever heard a crowd,” the Thunder’s James Harden said. The decibel levels got jacked up even higher when Harden hit a 3-pointer, then Kevin Durant followed that with another 3 and the Oklahoma City Thunder, after playing from behind all night, had finally tied the score against the Lakers.”
Chris Mannix of SI: “Big players make big plays. And Kevin Durant made a lot of them With the Lakers feeding Durant a steady diet of Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant, who bumped Durant on the perimeter and funneled him towards the big men on the baseline, Durant struggled to develop a rhythm offensively, finishing 8-for-24. But he compensated by ripping down 19 rebounds, fighting his way to the free throw line a game-high 13 times and locking down Bryant defensively in the fourth quarter. The Lakers swarming defense may keep Durant’s field goal percentage down for the rest of the series but his ability to make the kind of plays he did in Game 3 are invaluable assets.”
Berry Tramel: “The crowd was bathed in blue, with Thunder shirts supplied to all 18,342 revelers. They came early, chanted “Beat LA! Beat LA!” 15 minutes before tipoff and worked themselves into a frenzy as Rumble dropped from the sky. Think OU-Tech football in that jumparound game. Think Gallagher-Iba after Big Country’s half-court shot. Think high noon 121 years ago to the day. Put a roof on the Land Run and you’ve got an idea of the Ford Center atmosphere Thursday night.”
Classy stuff from Darius of FB&G: “A lot will be made of the free throw discrepancy in this game and many will be quick to place some of the blame for the Lakers’ loss on the refereeing. Personally, I’ve always felt the same way that Kurt did when it came to the refs and whether or not they decided a game – if you allow a game to be close enough for the refs to be an impact, you live with the consequences. The Lakers led this game 10-0 at the beginning and had leads of 8-10 points at several different points of the game. The fact that the Thunder were shooting more FT’s didn’t matter then and shouldn’t matter because the discrepancy held up at the end of the game. The Lakers had plenty of chances to win this game and they didn’t. Instead, the Thunder fought, made a run, kept the game close, and then finished off the Lakers at the end. They earned this win and the refs had little to do with that.”
Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times: “An entire arena bore down on the Lakers, if not an entire state, the noise and the jubilation making it easy to fathom what happened in a second half that changed a series. Kobe Bryant faded, Kevin Durant elevated and the Oklahoma City Thunder had the most important victory of its brief two-year existence, 101-96, moving within 2-1 of the Lakers in a first-round playoff series.”
Email from J.G. after the game: “BEST. GAME. EVER. That was the loudest crowd I’ve ever been in…and I’m including Gallagher-Iba during Bedlam, which didn’t even compare to the Thunderdome tonight. Did you see TNT’s segment that said the Ford Center set a record for highest recorded decibel at 109 tonight? We were a part of that man! FANTASTIC!”
A Q&A with David Stern: “It’s really quite extraordinary to see what has happened here. The (city officials’) support for the team. The economic support for the team. And the fan support for the team… We’ve spent a lot of time over the years to try and have a league where market size is not the differentiator in respect to competitiveness. It’s great to see the Thunder succeeding both on and off the court. It’s an interesting and growing and strategically motivated city. I’m pleased that the team and the NBA are sort of justifying the faith we had.”
Mrs. DT was obsessed with getting a picture of the awesome beard guys. So she went down and got one.
David Stern wants coaches to shut up: “I wish I had it to do all over again, and starting 20 years ago, I’d be suspending Phil and Pat Riley for all the games they play in the media, because you guys know that our referees go out there and they knock themselves out and do the best job they can. We have coaches who will do whatever it takes to try to work them publicly,” Stern said. “What that does is erode fan confidence, and then we get some of the situations that we have. So, our coaches should be quiet because this is a good business that makes them good livings and supports a lot of families, and if they don’t like, they should go get a job someplace else.”
It may not be there when you go, but on the front page of ESPN.com, the Ford Center is dubbed, “The NBA’s loudest arena.”
Video of the incredible tribute video before the game. I can’t watch again. It’ll get a little dusty.